Transition: Seen How You Feel

In Transition, Australian filmmaker and journalist Jordan Bryon gives the world an entirely different view of the Taliban regime during the fall of Afghanistan. Having gained incredible access to a Taliban unit, Bryon and his videographer, Teddy, give an authentic view of life under their oppressive regime. However, at the same time, Bryon’s journey with the military also coincides with his own physical transformation as a trans man. Out of concern for their lives, Bryon conceals his physiology in order to be accepted as a man, all the while struggling with the unique moral and ethical dilemma of his situation. As he gains more freedom during his transition, Bryon’s film also grapples with the oppression of women who attempt to find freedom themselves under the Taliban regime.

Directed by Jordan Bryon and Monica Villamizer, Transition is a terrifying and honest look at life under Taliban regime. Having earned the trust of the Taliban over time, Bryon’s footage is nothing less than stunning. From gunfire in the streets to weaponry hanging from the walls within arm’s reach, this is an unfiltered look at the oppressiveness of Afghanistan. 

While not graphic in nature, the reality of this particular space and time leaves an impression on the viewer that lasts after the credits roll. Having seen their freedom evaporate, this is a world where the oppression of women runs rampant. In each conversation, one can hear the tension within the people as they grapple with a regime that seeks to dominate, rather than empower. (“This generation came of age with freedom but was robbed of it overnight,” we’re reminded.) 

Even so, the most frightening aspect of Transition is our concern for Bryon himself. As a trans man in transition himself, Bryon’s journey carries an additional level of danger. As a trans man, his personal journey would conflict with the Taliban’s ultra-conservative views, likely leading to his own death. As a result, every interaction he has with them is pregnant with peril. For example, in one particular moment, he is challenged to wrestle playfully with another member of the group. But even the slightest reveal of his gender transition could create problems that escalate far too quickly. 

In light of this, Transition becomes a story about the desire to be ‘seen how you feel’. For Bryon, his transition is about feeling comfortable with who he is. To him, it’s an exercise in self-fulfillment. But the film uses this to also draw comparison to the oppression of women under Talban regime as well. In doing so, the film becomes a cry for justice for those who have been left to feel as outsiders simply due to their self-identity. Like Bryon, their lives are in genuine peril because of who they are.

And, like Bryon, they are made to feel shame in their own skin.

In this way, Transition is a film that moves in many directions. On one hand, it’s an honest look at a world dominated by male toxicity. On the other, this is also a personal journal of one man’s personal journey to feel at peace within himself. Together, these two realities come together to create something truly special. Like Bryon’s journey, this is film that recognizes the complicated struggles that come with Transition.

Transition is available on VOD/Digital on Tuesday, March 26th, 2024.

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